William D. Larson's Webpage

Web Page of William D. Larson

Welcome to my webpage. I am an economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The views on this website are my own and do not represent those of the Bureau or the Department of Commerce

My contact information, papers, data, and CV can be found below. My current research interests include: land and house price measurement; regional housing and labor market dynamics; energy and urbanization; and sports forecasting.

Latex Tutorial

Back by popular demand, here are the files used in the latex tutorials I used to give. This includes a generic latex document, a beamer presentation template, and a GWU dissertation template that is in accordance with the submission style guide as of 2011. To get started, here are the steps:

1. Download and install Miktex but do not do the full install--it's huge. You can download the individual packages as needed.
2. Download and install a latex editor. My favorite is LEd. It's a few years old but is still great.

And away you go!

Two other things I've found exceptionally helpful are the excel2latex excel macro which converts excel tables to latex tables, and have a bookmark to an online image converter. Latex uses .EPS images.

No empirical evidence that "female"-named hurricanes cause more deaths

In the paper "Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors present experiment-based evidence that hurricanes with "feminine" names cause more deaths than hurricanes with "masculine" names. However, when looking at hurricanes in the real world, there is no empirical evidence that the gender of the name of the hurricane is correlated with deaths, controlling for basic attributes in their dataset.

Using the data at http://www.pnas.org/content/suppl/2014/05/30/1402786111.DCSupplemental, I estimated several models, each with different information sets. Estimates of these models are found in Table 1, below. The code is found here and the data are here.

Models 1 and 2 show simple correlations between deaths and gender variables. No statistically significant relationship exists between them. Models 3-5 control for storm strength, damage, and estimate the possibility of interactions of gender with these covariates. In none of these models is gender conditionally correlated with deaths. Additionally, F-Tests of joint significance among the MFI parameters cannot reject the null of no gender effect.

Therefore, I would suggest there is no direct empirical evidence that the gender name of a hurricane affects the number of deaths, contrary to the author's experiment-based results.

Click Here for Table 1

Research Update

Just a few things to update. First, the paper with Paul Carrillo and Erik de Wit entitled "Can Tightness in the Housing Market Help Predict Subsequent Home Price Appreciation? Evidence from the U.S. and the Netherlands" has been accepted for publication in Real Estate Economics.

Second, I'm presenting a paper (written with Kyle Hood) entitled "Disaster Expectations, Home Maintenance, and the Effects of Hurricanes on Local Labor Markets" first, at the Western Economic Association International meetings in Denver in June, and at the AREUEA/ASSA Meetings in Boston next January. The abstract is below:

We develop a model of a small region with durable housing, endogenous home maintenance, and disaster expectations, in which hurricane strike damage is a function of maintenance decisions. The model implies that declining areas (relative to growing areas) have a less well-maintained housing stock, with several associated predictions on the effects of hurricanes. First, in declining areas, initial hurricane damage to the housing stock is greater, causing substantial job losses, out-migration, and supply-driven wage increases. Second, recovery in declining areas is less complete because for some locations in the area, the asset value of destroyed homes is less than the replacement cost. Areas with a history of hurricane strikes undertake higher levels of maintenance, making them more resilient to the effects of hurricanes. Empirical evidence supports each of these predictions, and results are notably robust to the exclusion of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Favorite Paper from 2014 AEAs

Last weekend, I was at the AEA meetings in Philadelphia. Despite the snow and freezing cold, I discussed a paper and went to a number of great sessions on a variety of different topics. It was nice to see old friends and colleagues too.

One question that came up in a couple of sessions was whether institutions or beliefs on Wall Street helped drive the housing bubble. In the institutions camp is the idea that fund managers had little downside and therefore took excessive risks. On the beliefs side is the notion that fund managers actually drank the kool-aid and truly believed that the housing market was appropriately valued. A fantastic paper on the topic that has stuck with me is a paper by Cheng, Raina, and Xiong on the capital gains on the homes that managers in securitization firms saw on their own homes during the time period. What they show is that people in these industries saw greater housing portfolio losses than a control group. This suggests that they really did believe that the housing market was in good shape leading up to the crash! Based on these conclusions, the authors recommend models of institutions also incorporating beliefs. Neat, huh?

Here is the paper http://www.aeaweb.org/aea/2014conference/program/retrieve.php?pdfid=586

New Paper Draft

I just finished a new draft of the paper "Housing and Labor Markets in Growing vs Declining Cities" today. This paper looks at how growing and declining cities react when subjected to demand shocks.


This paper explores nature of regional supply responses to demand shocks. Results imply that demand-driven models are appropriate in growing or stable cities, and models with supply constraints are more appropriate in declining cities. Cities are found to exhibit dramatically different housing and labor market dynamics in response to local demand shocks, consistent with the hypothesis that the durable nature of the housing stock acts as a supply constraint in declining cities. Failure to apply the correct class of models to a particular city will result in biased estimates of employment, house prices, and wage effects of ordinary demand shocks or demand-side stimulus policies.

Data for the Export Price Index and the Urban Decline Index can be found here.

Presentation at 2013 NARSC conference

On Saturday, Nov. 16, from 8-10am, I will be chairing a session on environmental issues in urban and regional economies at the NARSC conference in Atlanta. I'll be presenting the paper with Tony Yezer on The Energy Implications of City Size and Density. This paper examines the energy implications of increased urbanization using a numerical urban simulation of an open city. We ask the question, ``do two cities of one million consume more or less energy than one city of two million," and find that, perhaps surprisingly, energy implications are about the same either way. However, under a height limit or certain other zoning restrictions, larger cities are actually much less energy efficient than smaller cities.

Other papers in the session include Economic Analysis of the Impact of Carbon Tax on Economy of Makassar City, Indonesia; Input-output analysis of CO2 emissions embodied in international trade and the analysis of geopolinomic structure implications; The most cost-effective path of energy system transition under the abatement objective in the time horizon to 2050: the case of China; and Solar Energy Access and Complex Urban Cores Three-Dimensional Morphology: A Spatial Statistical Approach.

Web Site Re-Launch

Given my vast amounts of free time due to the shutdown of the federal government, I decided to give my website a facelift to a HTML5/CSS design. I took a template at 1stwebdesigner and heavily edited it to tailor it to what I wanted. I first did web design in the late 1990s in high school, and things actually haven't changed that much on the coding end. On the other hand, HTML 5 has a whole new set of features which I hope to implement sometime in the future. One that's included in this reboot is a responsive design depending on the size of the window. So, if you're looking from a phone or tablet, it will look different than if it is viewed on a computer monitor. Nifty, huh?